5 Things This Week

It’s time for 5 Things This Week where I share 5 things that caught my eye on the internet and beyond. I like to start with some of the meatier pieces and then finish with a little whipped cream on top if you know what I mean. Let’s dig in, shall we?

  1. A friend shared this New York Times article on Facebook after the president’s statements on Frederick Douglass made it unclear if he knew that Douglass died in 1895. This piece by Charles M. Blow should be required reading for every American as it outlines not only the important contributions of Frederick Douglass but his relationship with Abraham Lincoln. It underscores the importance of true leadership in a tumultuous times.
  2. A second story from the New York Times by Christopher Mele with a headline of “Fatigued by the news?” caught my attention, because yes, I am, in fact, totally fatigued by news. It’s worth a read if you’re bingeing on the political train wreck and need to reduce your consumption. The story makes a great case for picking up a good old fashioned newspaper that has a start and a finish and only features the best articles and information.
  3. We are headed to the mountains this weekend for a much needed break from reality and some cabin time. I’ve been day dreaming about comforting, cold weather food, fire places and warming cocktails all week. I’ll be making these Chicken Pot Pies from Smitten Kitchen. I could read every single one of Deb Perelman’s recipes and I probably have. I wish we were neighbors. I think she might like bourbon as much as I do.
  4. Speaking of bourbon, we’re planning a trip to whiskey country to celebrate my 40th and we’ll be hitting Nashville and Louisville and several bourbon distilleries in between. Hubs and I have been enjoying a variety of bourbons lately and putting them in this his & hers decanter that I got “him” for Christmas. That all changed when he stumbled upon this story by Aaron Goldfarb in Punch about infinity bottles. It’s basically a super geeky way of making your own blend of whiskey. We now nerd out and dump the last few inches of each bottle into a special house blend. Awwwww…
  5. Since drinking bourbon can often lead to pondering mortality, this bit from Caitlyn Schneider on Mental Floss caught my eye and both intrigued and creeped me out. You can have your ashes pressed into a vinyl record with accompanying music by UK-based company Andvinyly. You can also make tons of copies and send them to everyone you want to haunt.

 

 

 

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Week 17 – Get a good night’s sleep

So my original task for this week was to stick to my budget, which I’m conveniently ignoring. I’ve been sick and I’m struggling to shake a hacking cough that is keeping me up at night and quite frankly, I’m exhausted. The thing is, I’m exhausted at least 3 or 4 days each week, sick or healthy. I don’t often get really restful sleep. I wake up in the middle of the night for various reasons (I’m looking at you 3 year old) and then I can’t fall back asleep. I lay awake recalling every item on my to do list and fretting over a perceived problem that feels like the weight of the world. This goes on for at least a half hour and sometimes much longer. Eventually, I pull out my phone and start browsing Facebook to distract myself from my own head. I usually fall back asleep with an hour or so left before my alarm is set to go off and then I wake up with a pounding headache wondering how I am going to get through the day without a nap.

Some weeks are better than others. Some times of year are more stressful than others. But right now it seems like I’m on an endless stretch of shitty sleep. If you’re perpetually tired, you know how much it impacts everything, especially your mood and productivity. I’ve gotten pretty good at pushing through and using things like exercise and caffeine to get me going, but enough is enough.

I’m going to get a good night’s sleep, DAMN IT! I’ve been reading up on good sleep habits and “sleep hygiene” and thinking about what causes my disrupted sleep. From what I’ve read, there are some things I should be doing to attain truly restful sleep. I’ve learned about setting a sleep schedule and sticking to it, light and noise interference, how temperature, pillow position, alcohol, exercise, caffeine, and medication impact sleep, and sleep journaling. There’s a lot of information out there and I need to distill it down to what is going to work for me. Here’s what I’ll be doing in the next week to ensure I get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Sleep schedule – I am generally in bed by 10 and up between 5 and 6, depending on the day. I don’t think my schedule is the problem, but I’m going to give myself at least a 7.5 hour window to get the rest I need.
  2. Phone use – I bought an alarm clock and a nightlight for my bathroom a few months back when I was really working on breaking my phone addiction. My phone still lives by my bed. I’m going to leave it in the kitchen to charge and use my alarm clock and nightlight. I think this will help limit my brain activating browsing time before bed and IF I wake up and can’t fall back asleep.
  3. Take care of my body – this sounds pretty broad but it’s actually a few rules that I’ll be abiding by to help my sleep habits. No caffeine after my morning coffee or tea. I do this mostly anyway but I occasionally have caffeine later in the day. I’m going to continue with regular exercise. I’m swearing off any medication that keeps me awake or makes me groggy the next day. Luckily, I can do this because I don’t have any medication that I rely on. The one I think might really help me is minding my alcohol intake before bed. Did you know that when your body metabolizes alcohol, it actually wakes you up? The rule is that you can metabolize about 1 drink per hour, so if you’ve had 3 drinks, you need to stop drinking 3 hours before bedtime so you won’t be awakened by your body. This shouldn’t be difficult, I just think I’ll be more aware when considering topping off my glass of wine…again.
  4. Tracking my sleep – I’ll be wearing my FitBit Charge 2 to track how much sleep I’m actually getting. I’ve been wearing it the past few nights and it seems pretty spot on. I’ve been between 6 and 7.5 hours. I’d looooove to get to a full 8. It also has this awesome function for relaxation breathing. It guides you through 2 – 5 minutes of breathing exercises and it is great right before bedtime.
  5. Dealing with my anxiety – I don’t have full blown crippling anxiety like some, but I do struggle with anxiousness in the middle of the night and an inability to relax easily. I’m working with JoyWell Counseling on tackling these issues because, to be honest, I think it’s probably the root of my sleep problems and ALL OF MY PROBLEMS in general.

I’ll be doing this for the next week or so to see if I can get consistently good sleep. I’ll report back on my findings. In the meantime, let’s all just drink in this adorable snoozing koala and let me know if you have any tricks for getting good rest!

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Week 16 – Do something that makes my eyes roll.

Do something that makes my eyes roll. I added that to my 40 Reasons list as I neared the end of the list and my ideas were beginning to dry up. In recent years, I’d learned that, sometimes, doing the thing I thought to be silly or stupid or ridiculous still had something lovely to give me. So I added the idea to my list thinking it would be a good growth experience. As I’ve been piecing together a schedule for checking off each item on my list, I am always quick to skip past it. I see it and I try to look away quickly and hope we didn’t make eye contact and that it didn’t see me. I don’t really want to do that. Why did I put it on there? I could remove it entirely like I did with Zumba, but it feels like cheating. And I’ve been really trying to get out of my comfort zone so this feels like something I should do.

Alright, here goes. In the not-so-distant past, I’ve mocked people for doing or saying things that I deemed to be cheesey motivational speak or new-agey and crunchy or exercises in self-absorption. I’m learning that I may have been just keeping my guard up and that I’m quite possibly a raging a-hole. It’s easier to be skeptical and cynical and assume that things won’t work or have no value than it is to be open to the possibility of something bigger, better, and greater than what you currently have. Because doing something bigger, being something more, and going after something better than what you currently have doesn’t come with guarantees and it’s scary as hell. And in order to go after that bigger, better, greater thing, you have to put it out there. Like actually tell people you want it and you are doing it.

It really can’t be a huge secret. We don’t hide things that we are proud of and excited about. We hide things that we are ashamed of or think that people may judge us for. And I know personally that people can be reeeeeaaaal judge-y.

So if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you probably know that I’ve made some changes to my life in the past couple of years. I’ve cultivated some good habits and I’ve adopted a new way of looking at things that has made my life better. And now I want more. The little changes have made me want big changes and they make me feel like more is totally possible. They make me feel like if I didn’t try for more, I’d be selling my self short. And life is to short for that business. So, I decided it was time to put it out there. The first thing I needed to do was decide exactly what the more was that I wanted. I needed to create a clear vision of how I wanted my life to look. And that’s when I realized I would do one of the things that I always made fun of. I was going to make a vision board. (Cringe)

In the past, I’d rolled my eyes and think things like “Oh good, I’m glad that making a collage on poster board is going to help you achieve your goal of a kitchen remodel.” Or “That’s great that playing with scissors and glue sticks is your ticket to your dream job.” Man, I really am a raging a-hole.

The truth of the matter is that if you don’t identify what it is you are working toward then what the hell are you working toward? And if you don’t know what it is you want, how do you set goals to get it? Like the wall at my gym reads, “Dreams are goals with deadlines.”

I subscribe to that now. Maybe I’m a crunchy, new-agey, motivational-speak loving, raging a-hole, but I subscribe to that. I’ll share my big dreams with you soon, when the time is right. For now you can peep my vision board and get a sense of where I’m headed.

What are your big dreams? Share them with me in the comments, either here or on social media. I’d also love to know if you are willing to share something that makes your eyes roll and take a personal challenge.

 

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5 Things This Week

I’m starting a new series called 5 Things This Week where I’ll be sharing some of the stuff that’s caught my eye on the interwebs from the previous week. This first week is a mix of written content, music and pictures of cute animals and people because balance. Without further ado, here are the 5 things I liked on the internet this week.

(1) As I was getting ready to write this post about getting political, I came across this on Medium written by Dina Leygerman. It’s a whole lot of hell yes and will resonate deeply with my fellow marchers.

(2) I’ve read a lot this past week about what’s happening in the White House, too much in fact. My emotions range from anger to anxiety to resolve to pride and then back again. This piece written by Eliot A. Cohen for The Atlantic made me feel all of those things, but mostly resolve and pride. He concludes with “There is nothing great about the America that Trump thinks he is going to make; but in the end, it is the greatness of America that will stop him.”

(3) I don’t know about you, but after reading the first two articles, I need a Valium. Instead, I’ve been listening to this song that neuroscience says reduces anxiety by up to 65%. It works. I came across the song and accompanying story on Inc. and I’ve saved it to my phone to listen to before bed or after the slow crumbling of democracy.

(4) If you want more soul-stirring music and you have not yet seen this beautiful original song by the artist Milck featuring members of the GW Sirens and Capital Blend, it’s a must watch! The performance occurs at the 4:23 mark of the video, but the whole thing is worth a watch if you love Samantha Bee.

(5) A friend shared this BuzzFeed list of 32 Of The Most Wholesome Things That Have Ever Happened on Facebook last week and I didn’t want it to end. It is warm fuzzy central.

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I’m getting political. Take it or leave it.

I’ve always been political. I’ve always had a set of core beliefs that guide my opinions and actions. My friends and family know where I stand, but we’ve never talked about it with any regularity. I never saw the point of trying to change people’s minds, both in real life or on Facebook, the ground zero of political bickering, rants, and rage. There never seemed like much point to discussing it. I knew who agreed with me and who didn’t and to each his own, right?

I also embraced a mentality of respectful disagreement. There are people I love that have very different views than me and I can separate their differing and often opposing beliefs from their hearts and souls. Even after the election, when things went so much differently that I had hoped for, I wrote this post about trying to understand one another and finding ways to bridge the divide with compassion and respect.

I still believe in compassion and respect, but less than a week into the presidency of Voldemort Donald Trump, I am done keeping my opinions to myself. I know, some of you that know me probably look like this right now…

And you’re probably thinking, excuse me? Have you been keeping your opinions to yourself? Is this what keeping your opinions to yourself looks like? And to you I say yes, actually, for as much as I have to say on the subject, I’ve been pretty damn quiet about it. And I’ll tell you why I haven’t said 80% of what I want to say. Because people get mad. And they get offended. And they don’t like you anymore when you’re political. And they wish you would go back to posting pictures of your kid or your dinner. But you know what? That ship has sailed. That ship sailed away so fast in the night that I woke up looking exactly like Kevin Hart. Well, not exactly. Well, not at all really because he is a short black man and I am a tall white woman but my face was definitely doing that.

I’m about to get real political because I’m alarmed by what is happening in the White House right now. This isn’t about who voted for Trump and this isn’t a debate about the people who chose him and why. This is about the fact that there is something very wrong with Donald Trump. I think most of us have known this for quite some time, including some of the people who voted for him and made excuses for or totally ignored his childish, arrogant, and downright disgusting behavior.

Again, this isn’t about how or why he is in the Oval Office, it’s about the fact that he is there, something is very wrong with him, and that he’s systematically dismantling democracy as we know it.

IT’S BEEN 6 DAYS!

It’s taken him 6 days to get the ball rolling on his campaign promises of dismantling Obamacare, building a border wall, limiting Muslim entry into the US, limiting reproductive rights for women, defunding vital and valuable social, arts & humanities, and environmental programs, and the list goes on and on. This may be great news to some of you. It’s not to me. And while all of those things are very troubling and threatening to the fundamental principles of a free and enlightened society, it’s not even what concerns me the most.

What sets the alarm bells off for me is that our president is issuing orders to silence government agencies from tweeting because it makes him look bad, that his press secretary is straight up lying to the press about trivial things like inauguration attendance, that he routinely depicts the media as dishonest while routinely rearranging actual facts to his liking, and that he doesn’t have the self control to stay above the fray and even pretend to be presidential. This prioritizing of his own image over actual issues is troubling and displays a fundamental disregard for democracy and free speech. It is unpatriotic. It is un-American. It is unconstitutional. And I haven’t even touched the ethics issues and lack of transparency when it comes to his business dealings and tax returns. We’ve elected a cartoon villain for president.

What is equally troubling is that, despite clear evidence that our president likely has a personality disorder and does not have the temperament or discipline to lead our country, the people surrounding him, who helped get him there, are willing to gamble on a loose cannon in the White House and sell out the American people because it’s their chance to grab a piece of the power.

Our country, our democracy, and our rights are not in good hands, PEOPLE!

If you’re not alarmed by what is happening right now and you don’t think that the principles that our founding fathers built this nation on are being chipped away by a narcissist and his team of flying monkeys, then you need to check your alarm bells.

I’m not writing this post because I think I am going to change anyone’s mind. I am writing this post because I am not going to sit idly and quietly by while our democracy falls apart because I don’t want to offend anyone. I am writing this post so that other people who are troubled feel motivated to act, to speak out, and to crush this bullshit presidency before we are no longer a democracy.

I am going to shout it from the rooftops every chance I get and then annoy you even more by continuing to post pictures of my kid and my dinner. I just wanted to give you fair warning. If you leave and never read another word I write, that’s okay. I don’t want you to go because, ultimately, this is not a blog about politics. This is a blog about me living my life without apology and without regret. This is a blog intended to create a community of people who share the same struggles and triumphs. This is a blog about living intentionally and purposefully and embracing the journey with pride. In this moment, right now, this matters a whole hell of a lot to me, so it has earned a place on this blog. I will be sharing some of the steps I’m taking to fight for what I believe in. If it’s not your cup of tea, I understand, because I once hated tea. It just turns out that once I actually gave it a shot, I loved it.

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Week 15 – Try Orangetheory Fitness

orange theory fitness

I haven’t always been the workout type, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. I never understood women who had a regular gym routine or fitness classes that they loved. I marveled at their discipline and the willpower they surely possessed to suffer through a StairMaster session. I hated gyms. They were boring and awful and I would much rather be outside or, more often, curled up on my couch. But I envied them. I wished that I had that desire to workout.

That all changed about 18 months ago. I think it was a combination of being fed up with my lack of fitness and energy and fed up with my pants being too tight and the realization that I was pushing forty and it was feeling like now or never. I’ve tried the whole fitness and weight loss thing before and it never really stuck. I’d fall off the wagon and then just put the notion of exercise being a part of my life on a shelf in the back of a closet. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why it stuck for me this time and how I became one of those women who actually enjoys working out. The only answer I’ve come up with is momentum.

I gave it a chance. I stuck to what I set out to do and I saw it through long enough to see progress. And I’m not talking about sticking it out for months, I’m talking like two – three weeks. I started to see real progress in how long and far I could run in a few weeks.

Side note: I highly recommend the Couch to 5k app if you are starting at a place of zero fitness!

Progress gave me momentum. I wanted to see more progress so I kept going. As I felt myself getting stronger and weight started to come off, it energized me. It renewed my commitment to getting fit and staying fit week in and week out.

When I created my list back in October, more than a year into my fitness journey, I added several active and outdoorsy items because there were new, physical challenges I wanted to tackle. If I’m being totally honest, a lot of them were still in my comfort zone. I originally had Zumba on my list of things to try because my gym has a lot of Zumba classes and I figured, why not? But it started to feel like less of a challenge and more just something to do because it was available. So I recently scratched it off my list for something that was way more out of my comfort zone, Orangetheory Fitness.

You see, even though exercise has become a very regular part of my routine and even something I look forward to, I still don’t think of myself as a gym girl. I run, I hike, I do HIIT workouts at home, and I occasionally do classes at my gym. I’ve even tried yoga. No thank you.  But I don’t see myself as the Crossfit type or the Orangetheory type.

I was introduced to Orangetheory about two years ago by one of my besties. She’s always been physically active so when she described the classes to me, it sounded great…for her. Fast forward two years and the girl is Orangetheory aka OTF 4 life. She has OTF friends. She wins OTF competitions. And her body…well, it’s ridiculous. She could probably kill me with her bare hands. I want to add a disclaimer here that she has some serious muscles but doesn’t look like a ‘roided out wrestler because I know that matters to some women. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve heard say, I want to be strong but I don’t want big muscles. I’m going to save my rant about wanting to hide your strength and smashing the patriarchy for a future post, but just know it is coming.

Anyway, my friend looks amazing. She loves the workouts and she won’t shut up about her #OTF #fitfam. Once I started taking classes at my gym, she started nudging me more. She saw that I enjoyed being pushed by an instructor and she went in for the OTF kill. I finally agreed to take a class. You can take a free one if you’ve never been before. I convinced a friend to join me and I went to my first class two weeks ago. I was nervous because I imagined being forced to climb a rope or lift a car off someone, but I think I had that confused with Crossfit.  I was afraid that I would be the slowest, weakest person in the class. I assumed everyone would be super fit and throwing tires around the room. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up.

Here’s how an Orangetheory class actually works. There are three stations in the room: treadmills, rowers, and a floor area for strength training. You rotate through each section while a coach directs you on what you should be doing while you are on that station. You wear a heart monitor so you can see your name and stats, along with everyone else’s, up on screens around the room. The stats tell you what zone you are in (hint: orange burns a lot of calories, hence Orangetheory) and how many calories you are burning. You use the zone color to determine if you need to push harder or dial it back.

Here’s what actually happened during the class:

  1. No one was throwing tires.
  2. There was a wide range of skill and fitness levels.
  3. I was so focused on completing my assigned workouts at each station that I wasn’t concerned with keeping up with anyone else.
  4. It’s definitely not about keeping up with anyone else or comparing yourself. It’s about focusing on what you need to do and pushing yourself to your limits.
  5. The energy was really good. The coach was awesome and encouraging and the people around me were friendly.
  6. High-fives and fist bumps with your neighbor are encouraged.
  7. The heart rate monitor really helped hold me accountable and really push myself during the workout.
  8. I sweated like a maniac during class and for about an hour afterward.

I bought a membership immediately after class and I’ve been back for two more classes. I’m totally hooked. I also feel fantastic for the entire day after the workout so I’m pretty sure my endorphin levels must be off the charts. After the first two classes, I was sore for several days. Not so much with my third class.

I am so so so glad I tried it. The walls are adorned with messages like “Goals are dreams with deadlines” and “Think about why you started” and “Don’t just wish for it, work for it” and it makes me all like HELLLL YEAAAAAH!

If someone had told me two years ago that I would be a fitness junkie and that the majority of my laundry each week would be sports bras and activewear, I would’ve said that it wasn’t possible. I wanted to want to workout, but I didn’t think I was that type of person. It turns out I just needed to set some goals and get some momentum going. It’s made me wonder what else I’m selling myself short on because I’m pretty damn sure that I can find a way to be whoever I want to be, all I need is a little momentum.

Share with me in the comments (either here or on social media) what you think you may be selling yourself short on. What’s the thing you want to be but think it just isn’t you? Is it something that can actually be accomplished with a goal?

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Week 13 – Strong not skinny

Strong not skinny has been my motto for a while now. You may have noticed that I made it my focus for a week during November as an attempt to reboot my eating habits and ramp up my fitness level. You may have also noticed that I used it as my focus for the first week of the new year for the very same reasons. You probably also noticed that I spent the entire month of December working out. I literally stopped only once to wrap some presents and chug a carton of eggnog. If you didn’t notice then I’m going to assume you swore off social media because I was pretty much fitness spamming everyone.

I’m a little late in getting this post up because it’s a complicated topic to write about. Primarily because there’s the way I want to feel about my body and the way I actually feel. And it changes all the time. It’s a very fluid situation with a lot of mixed emotions. I don’t think there’s a single woman reading this that doesn’t already know exactly what I’m talking about even though I haven’t gotten specific. Probably some men too. I can’t comment on how men feel about this because I’ve never been one. But I can tell you how I feel and what I’m learning in my quest for strong not skinny.

What I know

It’s really, really hard to be a woman and feel good about the way you look. From birth until death we are inundated with images of one kind of beautiful woman. We all know what a beautiful woman is supposed to look like because we see her all over the damn place.

She’s tall, but not too tall because she needs to be smaller than a man or else she’s not feminine.

She’s thin. For a while it was best to have protruding bones and appear perpetually hungry, but now that is gross, so she should be curvy but only in the places that are acceptable like her boobs and butt, and she should definitely not have cellulite.

She’s white. If she isn’t white, she should have similar features to a white woman and her skin shouldn’t be too dark.

She’s feminine and sexy and she’s definitely not assertive, funny, loud, or flawed.

She doesn’t exist.

Let’s take that enormous pile of Photoshopped images of non-existent women that we see every day and add to it the fact that women in TV and movies are disparately young. Let’s also add that it’s not uncommon to have a gray haired actor or middle-aged dad bod playing opposite a thin, twenty-something actress and we get the message loud and clear.

The message is that women are only good when they’re young, pretty, thin and in a supporting role. Ladies, once you hit 30 and put on a few extra pounds and wrinkles, please DISAPPEAR.

That’s why this is so complicated for me. It’s not just about how I feel about the way I look. It’s the insidious reasons why I am so conflicted about the way I look. It takes a whole lot of deprogramming to undo the messaging we are bombarded with from childhood. I’m an intelligent, adult woman who understands that what we’ve been sold is a seventeen ton mountain of bullshit and I still struggle with body image. It’s that pervasive in our culture and in our lives. Knowing is really only just the beginning of the battle.

Let’s zoom in from this big picture of real deal insanity to just one woman. Me. I was always fit and thin-ish growing up. I played sports year round and I ate Twinkies every damn day and I never thought much about losing weight as a teenager. I did criticize every single inch of my body as teenage girls nearly all women are prone to do. As I got older and less active, my weight crept up, little by little. Then came the pregnancies. And a surgery that left a a vertical scar on my belly from bra to bikini bottoms. Whatever chance I had of looking like “her”, that idealized, phony image of beauty that we all measure ourselves against, was gone. But let’s be honest, it was never a possibility to begin with. BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T EVEN EXIST!!!!

Sure, you may know someone that looks a lot like her, but that someone has their own struggles and issues and self-loathing. Having a body that is like “her” is not a cure all. You still have to like yourself and be grateful for the body you have.

For the past year and a half, I’ve slowly clawed my way out of rock bottom fitness and peak non-pregnancy weight. I spent a lot of time pretending not to care about my weight and thinking I was pretty damn accepting of my body. It turns out when you don’t take care of yourself and you aren’t making an effort, you don’t have much choice but to accept things. When you are working your ass off and struggling and not always seeing results, it’s a lot harder to be accepting and loving to yourself. I’ve lost weight and gained it back and then lost it again. I’ve tried all different kinds of workouts to find my groove. And I did it all in the name of being strong and healthy and being able to keep up with my kid. I told myself and everyone else that I wanted to feel better and I wanted my clothes to fit better, but deep down, I also really, really, really wanted to look like “her”. AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN EXIST! It’s madness really.

Even though I worked out every single day in December, I still gained 5 pounds. Because I ate everything. I literally said no to nothing. I had the exercise thing pretty down pat but my eating habits needed a major overhaul. And a realistic one at that. I couldn’t do something short term or quick fix. It had to be something that would work forever. Just the way I’ve incorporated exercise into my life.

What I’m doing now

Everyone has their own weaknesses when it comes to food. Mine, in no particular order, are junk food (processed food, fast food, anything with 30 ingredients I can’t pronounce that is really crunchy), booze (craft beer, good wine, cheap wine, dirty martinis, bourbon with one rock, margaritas…this is just the first page of the list), and sweetener (I like to add Splenda or Stevia to my cold brew). I also love cheese the most of anyone ever, but I refuse to put it on the bad list because I don’t believe it is. But I also love, love, love vegetables.

I decided that the best option for me was to cut out processed foods, mostly. Processed foods tend to have a lot of sugar and a bunch of stuff that isn’t what my body needs. I believe they are called empty calories. I figured if I started there, that would leave me with a lot healthier options. I also decided to stop adding sugar and sweetener to most things. And to lean toward lower calorie adult beverage options.

I’m only a few weeks in but I feel like this is really going to stick. I had two days of silently suffering and wishing for a box of crackers to crunch on but then the cravings passed. Also, I have no intention of being perfect with this endeavor. I’ve eaten out and ordered whatever the hell I wanted a few times. I’ve had a few double IPA’s in addition to my skinny cocktails. Because this is about finding a healthy solution that will work for my life. It’s a lot of planning and prep, but it’s getting easier and easier.

In 2 weeks, I’ve dropped 7 pounds and I feel really, really good. I’m also working out 5 days each week, which seems like a breeze after the 31 days 31 workouts challenge. While this is not a fitness blog, I’ll be posting details on Instagram and Facebook about what I’m eating that is awesome and some of the workouts I’m loving. If you have stuff you love to eat and workouts you love, please share them with me. I’m always looking for new inspiration. I’ll continue working toward my fitness and weight loss goals with a focus on good health and strength and complete and total appreciation for my body, scars and all. It’s the only one I’ve got. Now excuse me while I go drink some tea and eat these cashew butter and quinoa bars I made and wonder what the hell is happening to me.

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The Second Trimester List Shakeup

I’ve officially entered the second trimester of this project to birth an adult woman. In 26 weeks, I will turn 40 and I intend to do it feeling absolutely fantastic about where I’ve come from, where I’m at at, and where I’m going. If you have a “normal” pregnancy, the second trimester is supposed to be the best. You’re not nauseous anymore, you have more energy, and you have that pregnancy glow. Whatever the hell that means. I don’t know what a normal pregnancy feels like because mine sucked big time, but I think I’m having better luck with my fake pregnancy.

I feel really good about this project. I can see where some of the small changes I’ve made have translated into better habits and more intentional behavior. I’ve found myself putting into practice some of the items on my list without even having to devote an entire week to them. I think the simple act of writing them down has made them stick in the front of my mind. I’ve also learned A LOT about goal setting and how much these little, tiny changes impact the big picture goal. When I first made this list, I considered what made sense for my life as it existed in that moment. I thought about what was realistic to accomplish with my schedule and my obligations, which is, I think, a very practical approach to fulfilling a goal. In the last 13 weeks though, I’m seeing things that I didn’t see before. What once looked like limitations or obstacles now look like a minor problem to be solved, a challenge to be completed.

My list is evolving and my dreams are getting bigger. I’ve had some things tucked away in my heart that I wanted so much, but they seemed too big and too scary to go after. But this is the second trimester and I’m not nauseous anymore and I have way more energy to do this thing. I’ve outlined my list below for the next 13 weeks. Don’t be fooled by some of the ordinary titles, there are some sleepers and some plot-twists lurking within. I can’t wait to share them with you over the coming months. I’ve also edited some of my existing items to fit better with current goals. And what I’d really, really like to know, is what goals you guys have that you’re going to knock out this year. Share them with me!

The Second Trimester List

Week 14 – January 10 – 16 – Do something I’ve been dreading.

Week 15 – January 17 – 23 – Try Zumba. I’m not coordinated. This should be interesting. Try Orangetheory Fitness.

Week 16 – January 24 – 30 – Do something that makes my eyes roll. Sometimes being judge-y keeps me from doing awesome things.

Week 17 – January 31 – February 6 – Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget.

Week 18 – February 7 – 13 – Date my husband.

Week 19 – February 14 – 20 – Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one. Plus take Little C to the snow.

Week 20 – February 21 – 27 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.

Week 21 – February 28 – March 6 – Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor.

Week 22 – March 7 – 13 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week.

Week 23 – March 14 – 20 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Week 24 – March 21 – 27 – FREEBIE

Week 25 – March 28 – April 3 – Visit a national park I haven’t been to before.

Week 26 – April 4 – 10 – Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run.

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Week 12 – The 52 Hike Challenge

Hiking is the one form of exercise that has never failed me. Or maybe I should say I’ve never failed hiking. I’ve never had to force myself to go on a hike. I’ve never cursed hiking while I was hiking and just wished hiking wasn’t a thing. (I’m looking at you running. And yoga. And burpees.) Until very recently, it was the only form of exercise I truly enjoyed.

I love being outdoors. I love the distraction of the scenery. I love the conversation with my companions. If I’m alone, I love that the time is mine to reflect or to listen to whatever I want. I love the friendly greetings from other hikers and mountain bikers. I love that moment when you make eye contact and smile and acknowledge without speaking that you share something in common. I love the reward of the vista or the waterfall or the quiet meadow or grove of trees that you didn’t know was waiting for you.

I’ve often tried to identify another form of exercise that I might fall in love with the way I have with hiking. It would have to be outdoors. It would have to be something that I would get absorbed into the act of so I wouldn’t think about how hard my body was working. I considered skiing or kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, but those things require even more time and a lot more gear than hiking. I came to the conclusion that there is just simply no good substitute for a hike.

In the past two years, I’ve made more time for hiking, but I’m still not going as often as I’d like. We have a few books on hikes in San Diego County and Southern California that we use to find new trails. I also follow several great hiking Instagram accounts, which is how I stumbled upon the 52 Hike Challenge. I went down the Instagram rabbit hole to learn more about it and found a whole hiking community in my backyard that I didn’t know existed but am excited to be a part of. I knew instantly that it would be on my 40 Reasons to do list. Boiled down to its simplest terms, you hike 52 times in one year (at least a mile), or once each week.

The goal is to make hiking a part of your weekly routine. At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to find the time to hike so often. It’s a time consuming choice of exercise and most of us struggle with packed schedules and lives. I live really close to a lot of trails and it still takes a minimum of 20 minutes to get to a trail head. And then the hike itself is typically going to take 90 minutes to 2 hours, if you’re doing a short one. But for me, making the time for a weekly hike has been so worth it. See paragraph A. There’s just no good substitute for a hike. There’s no better way to stretch your legs, open your lungs, and find the space to clear your head. If there is, I haven’t found it yet. But if you know about it, you must tell me. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to 49 more hikes with my friends, my husband and little one, and MYSELF and the joy of exploring on foot. Holler at me if you want to join me!

Learn more about the 52 Hike Challenge here!

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Week 14 – That thing you’ve been dreading

I just did something that I’ve been dreading. Well, two things actually. It’s going to sound silly but it’s been weighing on my mind for almost a year. So much so that when I think about it, I’m like this really anxious hamster. I have a dental issue that needs addressing but I keep ignoring it because I’m worried it’s going to be worse than I think and it’s going to cost a fortune. So I just keep putting it off. Aaaand I hurt my ankle almost a year ago and I’ve known for about 6 months that there is definitely something wrong with it and it’s not going to heal on its own but I just. keep. putting. it. off. Because what if I can’t workout?!

As I do things like #31days31workouts and completely overhaul my eating habits, it seems insane to completely ignore some major stuff going on with my body. I finally ripped the imaginary bandaid off and made appointments for both today. It’s like a huge weight has lifted just because now I don’t have to carry that crap around worrying about it. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG? I know these things may seem minor, but I would be willing to bet that each and every one of you is carrying around something that seems small and that you’re putting off and the longer you carry it around, the heavier it gets and the more time you have to spend pushing it out of your mind. You don’t have to push it out of your mind if you just face it head on. It just wants you to look at it and deal with it and then it will leave. Do it! Do it! And then tell me about it please.

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